A Brilliant Night: raising money to honour loved ones who died of brain cancer
Published Tuesday, October 18, 2016 2:53PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 18, 2016 5:06PM EDT
Women who have lost loved ones to glioblastoma have joined forces to do what they can to stop the disease.
Glioblastoma is an aggressive form of brain cancer. Most people diagnosed with it are lucky to live for another 18 months.
Many Canadians heard about it earlier this year when the lead singer for the Tragically Hip, Gord Downie, revealed he had been diagnosed with cancer late last year.
It affects two to three people out of 100,000 every year, and took the lives of three Montrealers.
Suzanne Wexler's mother died after vacationing in Boca Raton. Allan Small was a dentist and father of four.
Marie-Claude Lacroix lost her son, Francis.
"We were just back from a trekking trip base camp in Nepal, two months before. We never saw this coming," she said.
Their loved ones joined forces to great a legacy and to raise funds for the Montreal Neurological Institute.
"The Neuro was so fantastic and something special needed to be done for this hospital," said Wexler.
Dr. Kevin Petrecca, chief of neurosurgery, said the funds are a great help.
"We use a lot of clinical specimens which are expensive to maintain. We do a lot of next generation genomax which is expensive to do as well as the type of experiments we do, so there's just so much federal support for programs such as this," he said.
Advancements in technology are creating new possibilities.
"We're starting to understand where these cells come from, what controls their self-renewal properties and their growth," said Petrecca.
Aside from raising money for the research these women want people to learn about the disease and how aggressive it can be.
"When you have any type of cancer, breast cancer or bone cancer, you don't lose your capacity of thinking, of communicating, of talking, of loving, of recognizing your loved ones. Brain cancer does that, and that's one of the most difficult situations," said Lacroix.
"Even though Francis lived only 26 days after his diagnosis I think he was one of the lucky ones in that sense -- that Francis left as Francis."
While grieving has been difficult, these women say hosting the event has helped them heal.
"We clung to each other for support and I don't even know how I would've made it through the darkest hours without this event," said Heidi Small.